Review: Vega Sport Workout Energizer

photo-2-17.jpg

So this review is long overdue but what better day than Labor Day, to release it? I have just finished my biggest month yet. 180 miles in August (and super lucky with the weather). Tempo runs, speed work on the track and long runs and I feel good. As mentioned in my last review of the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, it's almost like a magic potion. I work hard, I drink it, I feel much better the next day without losing the adaptation in my body.

So the next logical step was to see if I could step up my game by using the vega sport pre-workout energizer and the sugar free energizer during sessions.

The way I used them was to drink one before a workout and the other during particularly during a track workout. The flavours I had were 'lemon lime' and 'Acai berry'.

Full disclosure, following the recommendations for drinking the pre-workout energizer only 20 minutes before heading out for a tempo run, didn't work for me. I am quite fond of the recovery accelerator flavour but this one, wasn't as easy on the stomach particularly a stomach that was "nervous" about hitting target paces. But I spoke to the team at Vega Sport and they suggested to use more water (makes sense, duh!) and I started drinking it up to 75 minutes before heading out.

It worked. I was able to hit paces in the tempo run that I haven't seen since my active athlete days and maintain them at a good heart rate over the course of 5,6,7 miles. Apart from feeling physically strong I also felt mentally strong. I remember telling a friend of mine recently that I felt like "I was flying". I finished all of those workouts strong and that definitely made me go into the next similar workouts more confident almost looking forward to them... almost.

As for the sugar-free energizer, it is one of my big pet peeves. I think the first thing people should eliminate if they are serious about making progress, is sugar. So I was happy to hear that this product is sugar free. The taste is ok, it goes down easy and I used it during recovery laps at speed workouts. It is not too heavy so I didn't feel like I needed to flush it down with water. I would usually drink water before and after the workout.

To sum these two items up:

  • Taste: good - not as good as the recovery accelerator but never over sweet;
  • When to use: mentally and physically hard workouts. Speed and tempo will fly by easier and you will be able to stay focused and strong;
  • How often do I use them? One of each, once per week. Which leads me to:
  • Price: $29.99 for the 12-pack the pre-workout energizer will last you through 2/3 of your marathon training plan. The sugar-free energizer for $49.99 is a bit on the pricier end, but you get 30 sachets that will last you a while.

I also just saw that Vega Sport is selling a starter kit on sale for $19.99... click on the link on my blog page and make sure to check it out. That way you can also see what flavours you like and then decide on the bigger packs or tubs.

Enjoy and good luck training for your next race!

Roma

It wouldn't be a workout that makes you better, if it were easy. Would it now? ;-)

vega sport review

Why I hate burpees - and you should, too

grumpy-cat-hates-burpees.jpg

If you are a fitness minded person it is safe to say that you have come across burpees. The definition of a burpee in English is the following: a physical exercise consisting of a squat thrust made from and ending in a standing position.

Usually when we are asked to do them, we do a push up then jump forward from the plank position, we add a jump squat and then jump back to plank. Usually we get past the first few and they resemble that original image that we have of them. Once we get past a certain number, our form gets lost and we get tired. The push up in itself is hard, we forget our form in the jump forward and definitely in the jump back. And forget about the jump squat. If we manage to lift our arms over head while huffing and puffing that probably feels like an achievement.

Sound familiar?

I hate burpees 2

So why do I hate this exercise so much? For a number of reasons:

  1. Burpees are usually expected to be done speedy within a time frame of e.g. 60 seconds. If it's a bootcamp you will have an instructor breathing down your neck and hurrying you along while counting down the time.
  2. Anyone who has been asked to jump forward in yoga has received a lot of pointers on how to do it to land softly and safely. But when asked to do burpees, there are no cues. I have seen people jump and land hard on their feet, or hurt their toes and the worst, sudden load their forward flying body weight onto their shoulders and neck. Ouch.
  3. A jump squat is hard on the knees if done incorrectly but if done under pressure, even more so. A correct squat lowers the butt down to the heels with the chest staying upright. When performed under pressure and whilst scrambling to look up after the jump forward, the chest is usually down, the take off and landing on the feet is anything but light and the jump usually becomes an awkward hop.
  4. Jumping back to the plank position is where I have seen the worst variations that can cause serious injuries in classes that I took and the instructor asked us to do burpees. The most common being incorrect placement of the palms and therefore pain in the wrists and much worse, a jump back and landing with a hollow back resulting in a serious shock to the lumbar spine. Not an ideal position to then do a push up from, very painful in the long run and not very useful to build core strength. I myself can only do so many 'clean' burpees before having to pay extra attention to this aspect of the exercise.
  5. I fail to see the benefits from the exercise. Is it strength building, increasing cardiovascular capacity, working individual body parts or what?

My personal opinion is that there is no harm in breaking the exercise down:

  • You can do one minute of jump squats, paying attention to lowering your butt, keeping your knees above and behind the ankles, pressing off the ground and staying light on the balls of your feet.
  • Then you can do 60 seconds of push ups. Play around with them, do them in a chatturanga style with your elbows tucked in. Do them with wide elbows. Try them lowering all the way to the ground or maybe more dynamically by only lowering 2 inches and doing them faster. If all that isn't enough for you, do dolphin push ups.
  • Lastly, hold a plank and increase the time little by little. Move your arms around while you are doing it. Lift your palms off the ground, your feet, one at a time. Stay moving and see how that feels in your core the next day.

I hate burpees

Just with these three exercises, you can increase all those capacities I mentioned above in a much safer way and they will define, tone and sculpt your body while increasing your endurance potential.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Roma

 

Core Workout Video

Use this core workout video to exercise your obliques and abs. Place a block between your thighs, lift your legs up straight or bend knees if necessary. With both hands interlaced behind your head, lift right elbow towards your left knee, then switch. 10 repetitions on each side. Three sets.

Body Image and Health

Body-Image.jpg

Regarding the title, Body Image and Health, you'll probably wonder what I'm doing in the picture above? I'm pulling up my pants. They are low-rise and therefore sitting in them without a belt, means that I have to adjust them before I sit down for a photo opp. Body image is a topic that everybody can relate to, everybody in a different way though. For me personally it came as a big surprise when my 15 year old lanky frame suddenly started developing curves. There were areas that took a little while longer, but not my hips and bottom. Suddenly what felt like overnight, I had a butt. And I didn't like it.

In today's society we are fed pictures of Victoria's Secret models strutting their stuff down the runway looking curvy to us, however they are really only curvy in relation to their otherwise very slim frame. Fashion models are preferably androgynous with narrow shoulders and no hips. So it is now wonder that we women strive to maintain a slim frame from the moment our body changes in adolescence. We own skinny jeans and keep them "in case we will fit into them again", we are joyous at the thought of wearing a size 4 (which is manufactured to make us feel smaller), we compare, we follow trends, we play with colours and shapes and we work out to get slimmer.

As a professional athlete I was huge by society's standards, I had broad shoulders, strong legs (one leg was so much bigger from fencing than the other, that I had to buy jeans one size up), I had big guns and I had a runner's butt. My body was my job, I was eternally grateful for all it could take, it was my tool, and I was incredibly proud of what it stood for: strength in swimming, steadfastness in shooting, a deep seat on horseback, explosiveness in the fencing and a graceful stride in the running. When I quit competing, my body placed fat on top of my muscles, courtesy of me continuing to eat like I was training 25 hours a week. And somehow at the time I didn't notice.

I look back at those photos now (no, I won't share them) I cringe slightly at how unaware I was, not just of how I looked but how unhealthy I was. I had left a very controlled lifestyle for the first time and I was consuming a lot more than was necessary or good for me.

And then a beautiful thing happened: because I was so unaware of my heavier frame I didn't do anything about it. I started eating less as my body recognized my lower output, I incorporated some exercise into my life again and my body naturally "shrunk" back to my healthy size (mind you, over the course of almost 2 years!). I have been at my size and weight for 8 years now and as people who know me will attest, I eat a lot and then some.

Working with people now, my priority is not teaching them how to lose weight quickly and I personally don't measure success by watching people shrink. What makes me happiest is seeing both men and women embrace strength, develop skills, grace in situations in which they were convinced they would never be, change their perception of food and gratification and most importantly make movement an integral part of their lives. If there is an obsession that I support then it's feeling the urge to move to experience health in body and mind.

I embrace my body and my butt now. I'm a woman so I have fat days, bloated days, feeling ugly days, sad days and envious days. But overall whenever I do, I try to think back to the pride I used to feel over a healthy body that allowed me to do so much. I dare you to think of a night out in which all you did was have fun and thought of nothing else. Not your outfit, not who you wanted to impress, or what anyone else was wearing... Right there, that's the feeling that exudes a quiet confidence that is so irresistible...

Stay tuned for the letter C tomorrow! And make sure to hop on over to my Facebook page for the rest of the alphabet.

xxR

Believe in Yourself

1424353_392178124246622_1083576604_n.jpg

The most important person to trust is you. You have to believe in yourself. Others can guide you and support you but I was told once that you can never learn from other people's mistakes, nor can they pass on their experiences and the mistakes they made. And I think that is a very valid point. Even more so, in today's society where we are constantly exposed publicly through the internet, we are scrutinized much more physically and in terms of our opinions and viewpoints. It is hard to not give in to this trend, to pay attention to it, to compare oneself and be influenced by others' opinions. However, it shouldn't matter and checking in with yourself, being authentic and creating a life that you thrive in and are proud of will get you closer to that!

 

Why Variety in Training is Key

photo-62.jpg

When Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Olympic Games thought up the Modern Pentathlon in the early 1900s he wanted to create the perfect athlete or - at the time - the ideal soldier. He created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th-century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run. Thus the Modern Pentathlon was born and debuted at the games in 1912. Few know that Modern Pentathlon has been on the programme continuously since then. I tried to compete in 2000 but didn't qualify and then went on to study sport science and work at the UN... When I googled "hybrid training" and even "combination training" which I thought were apt descriptions of borrowing elements from various disciplines to creating diverse training programmes, many photos popped up of bodybuilders, ripped bodies in tight tops or none and it was all about muscle building, adding weight and bulking up. However in my own experience and working with people I have found that variety in training has led to the most effective way to lose weight, tone and lengthen the bigger muscle groups and changing a person's appearance overall. Variety also extends to food and the same principles apply. A person who cuts out a food group or deprives themselves anything for a set period of time, will ultimately come to resent these strict rules and break them. Often overcompensating and thus going back to zero. Motivation sinks below zero and getting out of the slump of guilt and inhibition to start over again, makes the whole experience less than pleasant.

What I have seen in people that I've worked with is the exact opposite. The phenomenon of supercompensation. In sports science, supercompensation happens after the training period. It could be called the resting phase when the body recovers. If it is done right, the body not only recovers but gets stronger, thus reaching a higher plateau on which to base the next training period on. By adding variety to my clients' training, I have seen that even though we don't put in a strictly defined recovery phase, we still let certain body parts recover and target other parts. We still fatigue the muscles with repetitions (I distract people with jokes, while we do) but none of the training sessions ever lead to a debilitating state of soreness or emotional distress which make people dread coming back.

Personally I have seen the opposite approach in classes such as bootcamps and some martial arts in which I was yelled at to do things faster and harder and threatened with extra repetitions if I didn't and even though I can push myself well past boundaries that others find painful, I would experience pangs of fear going into these sessions. So I stopped going.

During my time as an athlete, supercompensation was timed accurately especially before big events. I want people that I work with to experience joy in movement so that supercompensation happens naturally. And it's what I've observed. People have increased the number of times they work out now. Their bodies are changing. Their approach to working out went from "I can't do it - I never could" to "hell, yeah" or they simply don't notice the development. They walk straighter and experience food in a different way. They develop a childlike enthusiasm towards trying new things and then realise them when they least expect it. They recover faster (even after birth and C-sections!). They laugh which makes me really happy. In group classes they support each other or in privates they trust me. And so far, they all still like me even after I sneak in an emotional challenge here and there  :)

I find it very important to end each session with some yoga and relaxation so that by Savasana and a head rub you have forgotten everything we did. It's all part of the magic. Witnessing the past months, I'm so impressed with everybody's development, which keeps me on my toes and grateful I get to be part of it.

Thank you.

xxR

Yoga Happiness

photo-60.jpg

Does yoga bring happiness? For the longest time I was mainly a runner. I was a passionate fencer for many years and I love show jumping on horseback. And then not too long ago I threw yoga into the mix. My husband who has been practicing for decades promised me that if I stuck with it past the point in which downward dog would actually become a relaxing pose, I wouldn't regret it. He is a wise man, my husband :) I can't think of a better way to stretch out after a long run or to start other days building heat in my body (especially in this weather), than through yoga. It has helped me deal with anxiety, makes my skin looks rosy (say my friends) and it is a perfect way for me to end each of my classes and sessions with people that I work with.

Yoga makes me happy. It is the balance to my running. It has helped me trust in things instead of wanting to control them.

Balance + Trust = Happiness

Let me know if you agree or how yoga has helped you, below in the comments!

xxR

Leg Toning Exercises - Bespoke Training (video)

Picture-11.png

In this new video I have compiled exercises for toning the legs. Using a Theraband or elastic resistance band makes them fun and strengthens and lengthens the muscles in the legs in a gentle way, while increasing your range of motion and core strength. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments or come on over to my YouTube channel to check out the rest! And make sure to check out my friends' website over at Melt Massage and Bodywork (where I shot this video and you can get a great massage!).

Monday Moves: Hip openers

photo-54.jpg

Have you ever done hip openers in yoga and felt like crying but the good type? Well, that's what they are good for. Opening the hips releases negative emotions and is a powerful point on the mind body connection. And this quote from the Yoga Journal sums it up really well: "We hold stress and negative emotions—such as fear, guilt, and sadness—in our pelvis, [...] it's particularly important to do poses that move prana (life force) through that area. "You know your junk drawer at home?" [...] "The pelvis is like the body's junk drawer. Whenever you don't know what to do with a feeling or experience, you put it there." In the photo you see me in ankle to knee position with my finger tips on the ground. You can also place both palms on the ground in front of you and then try straightening the legs. My hamstrings are tightening up as we speak of it. Try and keep your hips leveled and press the knee actively down to support the move. Hold for 5 deep breaths and see how you feel.

Monday Moves: Exercises to open your Chest - Übungen um den Brustkorb zu öffnen

Photo1-4.jpg

These two exercises are great to open your chest and relieve stress and tension. We all  hunch in front of the computer and anxiety can prompt us to lean forward and hunch our shoulders, too. Why am I wearing a swim cap you wonder? It's my old practice cap and I just rediscovered it and these exercises are equally good for swimmers before practice. In the first exercise, place your hands on your hips and then open your chest and bring your elbows towards each other. Do three sets of 8 repetitions. In the second exercise, hold elbows together in front of you and level, then open up your chest and bring your shoulder blades together. Three sets of 8 repetitions. exercises to open your chest

Heutzutage sitzen wir alle viel zu viel vor dem Computer und beugen uns dadurch viel nach vorne. Oder Stress kann dazu führen dass wir uns unwohl fühlen und die Schultern nach vorne ziehen. Diese zwei Übungen sind fantastisch um den Brustkorb zu dehnen und zu öffnen und dadurch Stress abzubauen. Warum ich eine Badekappe trage fragt ihr euch? Weil ich sie soeben wieder entdeckt habe. Ausserdem sind die zwei Übungen auch super für Schwimmer vor dem Training. In der ersten Übung stemmt ihr die Hände in die Hüften und drückt dann die Ellbogen nach hinten. Drei sets mit jeweils 8 Wiederholungen. In der zweiten Übung haltet ihr die Ellbogen parallel und auf Brusthöhe vor euch und öffnet dann beide Arme weit nach hinten. Die Ellbogen bleiben angewinkelt. Drei sets mit jeweils 8 Wiederholungen.

Monday Moves: planks, planks, planks / stütz, stütz, stütz

photo-51.jpg

I must admit, I wasn't always the biggest fan of planks in any form, but since doing them daily with and without clients, it is astonishing how it has defined and strengthened my core. It has helped me alleviate sciatic pain and I even recorded a little video with useful exercises and tips that you can find on YouTube or right here on the blog. I muss zugeben der Stütz, war nicht unbedingt meine bevorzugte Übung (kam gleich nach Klimmzügen) aber seit ich ihn täglich durchführe, mit Kunden und ohne, beobachte ich mit Staunen wie sich mein Rumpf verändert hat. Soviel stärker und definierter (Bonus!). Die Übung hat mir geholfen meine Ischias Schmerzen unter Kontrolle zu bekommen und ich habe sogar ein kleines Video aufgenommen, das ihr auf YouTube bewundern könnt oder direkt hier auf meinem Blog.

Monday Moves: Focus on your Core / sich auf die Mitte konzentrieren

photo-49.jpg

When you focus on your core you can accomplish everything in life. Emotionally and physically our core keeps us centred and helps us to keep a balance. Wenn du dich auf deine Mitte konzentrierst kannst du alles im Leben erreichen. Emotional und physisch hilft uns unsere Mitte, oder unser Rumpf im Gleichgewicht zu bleiben und nicht aus der Balance zu geraten.

Monday Moves: Work it on Labor Day/ Arbeite am Tag der Arbeit

photo-46.jpg

Work it on labor day and increase your core fitness. Do three sets of 20 repetitions. You can do this exercise with a partner, where you reach up and hand them the ball or you can just reach up and then roll back down. Keep your shoulders off the ground. For extra credit do the third set across and past the knee, 10 on each side Mache drei Sets mit jeweils 20 Wiederholungen. Du kannst diese Übung mit einem Partner durchführen und ihm den Ball reichen oder ohne Partner soweit nach oben reichen wie möglich. Und um es noch etwas interessanter zu gestalten kannst du die letzten 20 Wiederholungen zur Seite machen, weit am Knie vorbei, 10 nach rechts und 10 nach links.

 

Monday Moves: Get back in the saddle/ Sich wieder aufschwingen

photo-43.jpg

I went riding yesterday. Unfortunately since moving to NYC, it has been sporadic and this time I was aching to finally do a little bit of obstacle jumping again. And I did. A small jump trotting and two in a row cantering. It's like riding a bicycle, you don't forget. There's the hand-eye coordination, giving the horse impulses, verbal and physical, looking at the obstacles, not turning the corner too narrow to stay in a easy canter, looking ahead, lifting out of the saddle (just a bit) and then take off :) I am the happiest person in the world today. I'm also super sore. And if this experience has reminded me of one thing it is that all it takes often to overcome set backs or difficult situations is to giddy up or to be less literal, to get back in the saddle. To try again and to ultimately stick with things until they become a routine. Then, when the routine is there... tackle something new.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Gestern bin ich reiten gegangen. Leider kann ich das nicht mehr so oft, seit ich nach NYC gezogen bin und diesmal war ich sehr aufgeregt, weil ich endlich wieder Springreiten wollte. Und ich hab es getan. Ein kleiner Sprung aus dem Trab und zwei hinter einander weg aus dem Gallopp. Und was kann ich sagen, es ist wie Radfahren, man vergisst es nicht. Da ist einmal die Hand-Augen Koordination, dem Pferd Impulse zu geben, sowohl mit Worten als auch nur mit dem Körper, sich das Hindernis anzusehen, die Kurve nicht zu eng zu nehmen um in einem leichten Gallopp zu bleiben, vorausschauen, sich aus dem Sattel erheben (nur ein wenig) und dann der Absprung :) Ich bin heute die glücklichste Person auf der Welt. Und ich habe mega Muskelkater. Und gestern hat mich besonders an eines erinnert, nämlich dass es oft nur die eine Möglichkeit gibt, des sich wieder Aufschwingens um sich von einer schwierigen Situation zu befreien oder schwierige Umstände zu überwinden. Man muss sich wieder aufschwingen. Es wieder versuchen und im Ende dabei bleiben bis es zur Routine wird. Dann, wenn die Routine wieder da ist.... tu etwas Neues.

"Mut ist nicht immer ein lautes Gebrüll. Mut ist manchmal die leise Stimme, die am Ende des Tages spricht: “Morgen versuche ich es wieder”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday Moves: Exercises for Lower Back Relief (Video)

Picture-2.png

I am very excited that this first Youtube video is online, now! I hope it will be helpful to relieve some of your issues around the lower back. You can increase the number of repetitions per exercise as you see fit.

And I would love to hear more from you about it, in the comments below.

xxR

Monday Moves: Work multiple body parts/ Trainiere mehrere Körperbereiche

photo-41.jpg

Sculpt multiple body parts at once. Deep lunge w/ resistance band. Good for the core, thighs, upper back, bingo wings & armpit. For starters use the lightest resistance band, wrap it around a pole as shown in the photo or at home against a sturdy object on chest level. You should be pushing out the palms straight in front of your chest. Do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions; then switch the legs and repeat. Over time, build towards 30 repetitions and/ or use a stronger band. Trainiere mehrere Körperbereiche gleichzeitig. Tiefer Ausfallschritt mit Trainingsband. Diese Übung eignet sich besonders gut um den oberen Rücken zu trainieren, die Oberschenkel, die Unterarme und den Achselbereich. Fur Anfänger: schlinge das Band um ein Objekt auf Brusthöhe, bringe dann die Handflächen gerade vor deiner Brust nach vorne. Beginne mit 3 sets von jeweils 15-20 Wiederholungen und wechsel dann das vordere Bein. Mit der Zeit, kannst du dich auf 30 Wiederholungen hoch arbeiten.

Monday Moves: Balance for the Core/ Balance für den Rumpf

photo-39.jpg

Place an object on the soles of your feet and your hands under your bum. Lift without dropping the yoga block, book, or what I'm using in this photo: a 3lb Everlast exercise ball. Platziere einen Gegenstand auf deinen Füßen, deine Handflaechen unter deinen Po. Hebe die Füße zur Decke ohne den Gegenstand, z.B. einen Yoga Block, ein Buch oder wie in meinem Fall einen ca. 1.5kg schweren workout Ball, fallen zu lassen.

Monday Moves - Exercise Kneeling/ Übungen knieend ausführen

543766_342174662580302_357524635_n.jpg

I often ask my pregnant friends to do strength exercises kneeling to engage their core. It's strengthening those important muscles in a gentle way. If this feels hard on the knees, fold over your mat, for support. The same works for everyone else who's not pregnant, too. Try it! Ich bitte meine schwangeren Klientinnen oftmals, Ubungen knieend auszuführen um ihren Rumpf mit einzubringen. Dies hiflt die wichtige Rumpfmuskulatur auf sanfte Weise zu stärken. Natürlich trifft das selbe auch für nicht-Schwangere zu. Versucht es!